Business & Finance: Short Circuit

Short Circuit Just as aluminum holds the key to aircraft production, electric power holds the key to aluminum. Almost half of all U.S. aluminum is now produced in the Pacific Northwest, normally the source of abundant hydroelectric power. But last week that power was growing scarce; the Columbia River, which is studded with dams (Grand Coulee, Bonneville), was at the lowest level in 20 years. As a result, aluminum's Big Three—Alcoa, Reynolds and Kaiser—were forced to cut their Northwest production as much as 10%.

To meet this threat to rearmament, Defense Mobilizer Charles E. Wilson sent wires to all three producers, asking...

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